Supporting Youth in Military Families

To Honor and Serve:
Supporting Youth in Military Families

Washington is home to more than 65,000 Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard personnel from all branches of the armed forces, many of whom have families. The military lifestyle creates unique challenges for these military families and their nearly 30,000 school-aged and estimated 15,000 preschool-aged children. Frequent moves, regular and prolonged absence of one or both parents, and family dynamics shaped by the health and experiences of military parents’ all result in exceptional familial, educational, economic, and social hardships for children. Anecdotally, these children have been especially burdened by the recent wars in Iraq in Afghanistan.

While information regarding the exposure of youth in military families to risk factors is limited, recent research on school-age military youth in Washington State confirms that military youth exhibit risk factors for systems involvement. Research shows that, in comparison to their civilian counterparts, a greater percentage of school-age military youth exhibit risk factors that are known precursors for juvenile justice and child welfare systems involvement: alcohol use, attempted suicide, poor academic performance, episodes of physical violence, and carrying a weapon to school. This data is informative, but we still know very little about how these risk factors play out in terms of formal juvenile justice and/or child welfare involvement or about how military youth and their families engage with these State systems.

To Honor and Serve Program Overview

What We’re Doing:

  • Conducting needs assessment research that includes:
    • A comprehensive literature review analyzing and summarizing the research and evidence currently available on military youth and families’ experiences, needs, risk factors, and resiliencies
    • A youth and families survey assessing the experiences of military youth and parents who have experience in the state and/or military child welfare and/or juvenile justice systems. If you are a member of a military family, please click here to see if you qualify to take our survey.
    • Focus group interviews with key military and civilian stakeholders as well as military families, held on military installations across the state. If you are interested in participating in these events, please enter your contact information here.
    • Hosting a statewide summit to share the needs assessment research results.
  • Piloting a demonstration phase in which a recommended program or practice will be conducted in response to the findings from the needs assessment phase.